The Shining Ending Explained: The Fate Of Jack Torrance In The Classic Horror Movie

Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in The Shining

Horror films don’t much more iconic than Stanley Kubrick ’s The Shining , and while that’s true in general for the movie, it’s particularly true about the ending. After the slow burn of escalating terror that is the Torrance family spending the winter in the Overlook Hotel, the finale is an explosion of horror and chaos, and sticks in the mind of anyone who watches it. It’s eternally remarkable to behold, no matter how many times you watch it.

In recognition of its significance, I’ve done a deep dive into The Shining ending, and have written this piece to explore what happens, what it all means, and how it compares to the Stephen King book that inspired it. To begin, let’s recap exactly what goes down in the final scenes of the classic horror movie…

What Happens At The End Of The Shining

It’s not always cut-and-dry exactly where the beginning of a movie’s ending is, but in the case of The Shining we’ll pick up with what is the only physical representation of the supernatural in the film: Jack Torrance being freed from the locked pantry by the long-dead Delbert Grady, who informs the temporary caretaker that he must take care of Wendy and Danny “in the harshest possible way.” What’s more, there is a ticking clock, as Dick Halloran is on his way to intervene in The Overlook Hotel’s plans.

Meanwhile, while Wendy sleeps, Danny walks into her room in a hypnotic trance. He takes the chef’s knife from the nightstand and his mother’s lipstick from her vanity, and, all while muttering the word, writes “REDRUM” on the bathroom door. When the muttering turns into screaming, Wendy wakes up and tries to calm him down – but the temperature in the room sharply rises as she sees in the mirror that Danny’s message is “Murder” spelled backwards.

Not a moment later Jack arrives at the room and begins to smash at the door with a fire axe. With no other option for escape, Wendy takes Danny to the bathroom, and she is successful in getting him out the window, which has a nice pile of snow outside it, letting him make his way gracefully to the ground. Unfortunately the gap in the window is too small for Wendy to get through, so she instead has to stay in the locked bathroom, armed with the chef’s knife.

When Jack gets into the bedroom he taunts Wendy while using his axe to smash through the bathroom door. He tries to reach in, but his terrified wife slashes at him and cuts his hand. He reels from the pain, but then finds himself distracted by the sound of Dick Halloran approaching in a snowcat. As he leaves to take care of the Overlook Hotel’s cook, Danny runs back into the hotel and hides in the kitchen. And once she is sure that Jack is gone, Wendy leaves the bathroom.

Dick enters the hotel through the front door, and starts wandering around the halls looking for the Torrance family. Announcing his presence turns out to be a fatal mistake, as Jack surprises him and lodges his axe in Dick’s chest. A horrified Danny senses this horrific murder and escapes the kitchen to run back outside, getting Jack’s attention in the process.

Wendy searches for her son in the hotel, but instead of finding him she is treated to nothing but horrors presented by the history of the haunted hotel. Instead of being inside, the young boy is out in the hedge maze being pursued by his father. Realizing that he is leaving footprints in the snow, Danny carefully maneuvers backwards over his own tracks, and is able to throw Jack off his trail.

Getting out of the hedge maze, Danny reunites with Wendy, and together they get into Dick’s snowcat and escape. Jack, however, gets turned around and lost, and eventually gives up, slumping to the ground. By the next morning he freezes to death.

Back in the hotel, a long tracking shot leads out of the infamous The Gold Room to a gallery of photographs on the wall – the camera eventually focusing on a shot from the July 4th Ball in 1921. As we get closer and closer, we see that the man in front of the massive crowd is none other than Jack Torrance.

So what exactly happened to Jack Torrance? What does that photograph mean? That’s what we’ll dig into next!

What Happens To Jack Torrance At The End Of The Shining

Getting down to brass tacks, the Torrance family is in trouble the very second that they walk through the doors of The Overlook Hotel. While to some people the Rocky Mountain lodge comes across as simply a place with a dark history and a dark aura, Danny’s powerful gifts function like a battery for it, and give its evil the power to corrupt those who are vulnerable. Unfortunately for Jack Torrance, he makes for a perfect victim to the supernatural forces.

To say the least, Jack Torrance goes into his employment as caretaker of the Overlook in a fragile state. In addition to having recently lost his job as a teacher, he is also off the wagon following an incident that saw him dislocate Danny’s shoulder while he was drunk. Add in the resentment he demonstrates towards his family as he tries to be a traditional breadwinner, and what you have is Jack already wearing strings that the hotel merely needs to pick up and manipulate.

As seen through the various visions that the characters have throughout The Shining , The Overlook has taken many victims and installed them as permanent residents of the hotel – the prime example being Delbert Grady, who, like Jack, was also once hired to look after the establishment during a long winter. He too couldn’t resist the ghostly whisperings in his ear, and he killed his entire family and himself, becoming a new source for those ghostly whisperings as a result.

Had Jack been successful in killing Wendy and Danny, they too would have seen their souls forever trapped, but instead it’s just he who is rendered psychotic, dead and an everlasting presence in The Overlook Hotel through past, present, and future – fulfilling the “prophecy” of Grady’s ghost earlier in the movie when Jack is told, “You are the caretaker. You’ve always been the caretaker. I should know, sir; I’ve always been here.”

How The Shining Ending Differs From Stephen King’s Book

There is an entire CinemaBlend feature to be written cataloging all of the differences between Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and the Stephen King book that it’s based on (stay tuned on that front…), but this piece is about the ending, and that alone provides more than enough material to explore.

To start there is the fate of Dick Halloran. Stanley Kubrick made the decision to give the Overlook Hotel’s head cook a violent and horrible end, whereas Stephen King’s original text allows him to survive. Jack Torrance gives him a serious whack with a roque mallet (the insane caretaker doesn’t have an axe in the book), but he recovers from the injury quickly enough so that he can fulfill his goal to help Wendy and Danny escape a terrible fate.

Then there is the whole hedge maze chase sequence, which was a wholly original idea created for the film adaptation of The Shining . The Overlook Hotel does have interesting topiary in Stephen King’s novel, but what the author originally came up with was animals that quietly come to life to attack. It’s a controversial choice in the eyes of those who prefer King’s version, but it’s also worth recognizing that bringing that effect to life realistically in 1980 would have been incredibly challenging.

So if he doesn’t freeze to death in a maze, what happens to Jack Torrance in the book? Pretty much the exact opposite. One detail from Stephen King’s source material that Stanley Kubrick didn’t include in the movie version is that part of Jack’s responsibility as caretaker is to maintain the boiler and ensure that it doesn’t overheat. Danny is able to survive his father’s supernatural/possession-driven rage because he distracts him just long enough for the boiler to start moving into the red zone – and the evil forces prioritize saving the hotel over killing the boy. Jack’s sanity returns when he gets to the boiler room, resisting the commands of the hotel, and he dies as the Overlook burns to the ground.

Obviously the book is very different, but thanks to Mike Flanagan’s Doctor Sleep a kind of peace has been created between the two versions of The Shining .

How Jack Torrance’s Story Continues In Doctor Sleep

When Stephen King wrote Doctor Sleep , he included a number of elements that specifically made the book a direct follow up to his version of The Shining and not Stanley Kubrick’s, and that put writer/director Mike Flanagan in an unenviable position even while working on what many filmmakers would consider a dream project. What Flanagan was able to accomplish, however, was truly astonishing – both successfully continuing the legacy of the legendary 1980 film and making a respectful, faithful adaptation of King’s sequel novel.

With the Overlook Hotel still standing at the end of the Stanley Kubrick movie, Doctor Sleep has the opportunity to revisit iconic locations in its storytelling, and also the fate of Jack Torrance ( who is played by Henry Thomas instead of Jack Nicholson ). With many of the lodging’s ghosts locked up in Dan Torrance’s mind by the time he returns to the Rocky Mountains, Jack plays multiple roles as the “power” comes back on in the derelict establishment – which is something that is actually better shown in the movie’s director’s cut. Jack takes on the parts played by both Lloyd The Bartender and Delbert Grady when dealing with his son, and seems to have all of his individuality and humanity stripped away (notably having no emotional reaction when Dan brings up Wendy).

It’s really at the very end that things come full circle, however, as Mike Flanagan’s Doctor Sleep takes Stephen King’s original ending for The Shining and transposes it, featuring a possessed Dan Torrance distracted from a fight and rushing to the boiler room to try and stop it from exploding. Like the book version of his father, Dan is able to resist the influence of the hotel long enough for flames to start spreading, and as he dies he is reunited with his mother – and Jack’s spirit is presumably freed from the Overlook as it burns.

Hopefully this examination of The Shining ’s ending has only served to enhance your appreciation of it – and if you now find yourself in the mood to watch the movie, you can do so by streaming it on HBO Max , purchasing it digitally, or by buying it on 4K, Blu-ray, or DVD.

was jack torrance a ghost in the shining


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Eric Eisenberg

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.

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was jack torrance a ghost in the shining

The Shining

Stephen king, everything you need for every book you read., jack torrance quotes in the shining.

Fear, the Paranormal, and Reality Theme Icon

“She creeps,” Watson said. “You tell that fat little peckerwood Ullman, he drags out the account books and spends three hours showing how we can’t afford a new one until 1982. I tell you, this whole place is gonna go sky-high someday, and I just hope that fat fuck’s here to ride the rocket.

Isolation and Insanity Theme Icon

The wanting, the needing to get drunk had never been so bad. His hands shook. He knocked things over. And he kept wanting to take it out on Wendy and Danny. His temper was like a vicious animal on a frayed leash. He had left the house in terror that he might strike them. Had ended up outside a bar, and the only thing that had kept him from going in was the knowledge that if he did, Wendy would leave him at last, and take Danny with her. He would be dead from the day they left.

Fear, the Paranormal, and Reality Theme Icon

I don’t believe such things.

But in sleep she did believe them, and in sleep, with her husband’s seed still drying on her thighs, she felt that the three of them had been permanently welded together—that if their three/oneness was to be destroyed, it would not be destroyed by any of them but from outside.

Precognition, Second Sight, and the Shining Theme Icon

It was the place he had seen in the midst of the blizzard, the dark and booming place where some hideously familiar figure sought him down long corridors carpeted with jungle. The place Tony had warned him against. It was here. It was here. Whatever Redrum was, it was here.

They watched until the car was out of sight, headed down the eastern slope. When it was gone, the three of them looked at each other for a silent, almost frightened moment. They were alone. Aspen leaves whirled and skittered in aimless packs across the lawn that was now neatly mowed and tended for no guest’s eyes. There was no one to see the autumn leaves steal across the grass but the three of them. It gave Jack a curious shrinking feeling, as if his life force had dwindled to a mere spark while the hotel and the grounds had suddenly doubled in size and become sinister, dwarfing them with sullen, inanimate power.

And still she agonized over it, looking for another alternative. She did not want to put Danny back within Jack’s reach. She was aware now that she had made one bad decision when she had gone against her feelings (and Danny’s) and allowed the snow to close them in . . . for Jack’s sake. Another bad decision when she had shelved the idea of divorce. Now she was nearly paralyzed by the idea that she might be making another mistake, one she would regret every minute of every day of the rest of her life.

“Then you start to see things, Lloydy-my-boy. Things you missed from the gutter. Like how the floor of the Wagon is nothing but straight pine boards, so fresh they’re still bleeding sap, and if you took your shoes off you’d be sure to get a splinter. Like how the only furniture in the Wagon is these long benches with high backs and no cushions to sit on, and in fact they are nothing but pews with a songbook every five feet or so. […] And somebody slams a song- book into your hands and says, ‘Sing it out, brother. If you expect to stay on this Wagon, you got to sing morning, noon, and night. Especially at night.’ And that’s when you realize what the Wagon really is, Lloyd. It’s a church with bars on the windows, a church for women and a prison for you.”

As the number 2 rose on the shaft wall, he threw the brass handle back to the home position and the elevator car creaked to a stop. He took his Excedrin from his pocket, shook three of them into his hand, and opened the elevator door. Nothing in the Overlook frightened him. He felt that he and it were simpático .

The thought rose up from nowhere, naked and unadorned. The urge to tumble her out of bed, naked, bewildered, just beginning to wake up; to pounce on her, seize her neck like the green limb of a young aspen and to throttle her, thumbs on windpipe, fingers pressing against the top of her spine, jerking her head up and ramming it back down against the floor boards, again and again, whamming, whacking, smashing, crashing. Jitter and jive, baby. Shake, rattle, and roll. He would make her take her medicine. Every drop. Every last bitter drop.

His mother was still a little bit afraid, but his father’s attitude was strange. It was a feeling that he had done something that was very hard and had done it right. But Danny could not seem to see exactly what the something was. His father was guarding that carefully, even in his own mind. Was it possible, Danny wondered, to be glad you had done something and still be so ashamed of that something that you tried not to think of it? The question was a disturbing one. He didn’t think such a thing was possible…in a normal mind.

But it wasn’t really empty. Because here in the Overlook things just went on and on. Here in the Overlook all times were one. There was an endless night in August of 1945, with laughter and drinks and a chosen shining few going up and coming down in the elevator, drinking champagne and popping party favors in each other’s faces. It was a not-yet-light morning in June some twenty years later and the organization hitters endlessly pumped shotgun shells into the torn and bleeding bodies of three men who went through their agony endlessly. In a room on the second floor a woman lolled in her tub and waited for visitors.

Time Theme Icon

Around him, he could hear the Overlook Hotel coming to life.

It was hard to say just how he knew, but he guessed it wasn’t greatly different from the perceptions Danny had from time to time…like father, like son. Wasn’t that how it was popularly expressed?

All the hotel’s eras were together now, all but this current one, the Torrance Era. And this would be together with the rest very soon now. That was good. That was very good.

He had no idea what time it was, how long he had spent in the Colorado Lounge or how long he had been here in the ballroom. Time had ceased to matter.

“For instance, you show a great interest in learning more about the Overlook Hotel. Very wise of you, sir. Very noble. A certain scrapbook was left in the basement for you to find—”

What would she do if he came at her right now, she wondered. If he should pop up from behind the dark, varnished registration desk with its pile of triplicate forms and its little silver-plated bell, like some murderous jack-in-the-box, pun intended, a grinning jack-in- the-box with a cleaver in one hand and no sense at all left behind his eyes. Would she stand frozen with terror, or was there enough of the primal mother in her to fight him for her son until one of them was dead? She didn’t know. The very thought made her sick—made her feel that her whole life had been a long and easy dream to lull her helplessly into this waking nightmare.

“Gotcha!” he said, and began to grin. There was a stale odor of gin and olives about him that seemed to set off an old terror in her, a worse terror than any hotel could provide by itself A distant part of her thought that the worst thing was that it had all come back to this, she and her drunken husband.

“ Oh Tony, is it my daddy? ” Danny screamed. “ Is it my daddy that’s coming to get me? ’’

Tony didn’t answer. But Danny didn’t need an answer. He knew. A long and nightmarish masquerade party went on here, and had gone on for years. Little by little a force had accrued, as secret and silent as interest in a bank account. Force, presence, shape, they were all only words and none of them mattered. It wore many masks, but it was all one. Now, somewhere, it was coming for him. It was hiding behind Daddy’s face, it was imitating Daddy’s voice, it was wearing Daddy’s clothes.

The Shining PDF

Stephen King Wiki

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  • The Shining
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Jack Torrance

  • View history

He serves as the main antagonist of Stephen King's 1977 horror novel The Shining , the 1980 film adaption, It's 1997 Miniseries , one of the two posthumous overarching antagonists (alongside The Overlook Hotel ) of Doctor Sleep and a posthumous antagonist of its 2019 film adaptation of the same name . He is also a mentioned character of the Castle Rock TV series and a posthumous character of Misery .

  • 1 Biography
  • 2 The Shining (novel)
  • 3 Doctor Sleep (novel)
  • 4 Doctor Sleep (movie)
  • 5 Misery (novel)
  • 6 It: Chapter Two
  • 7 Ready Player One
  • 9 Appearances

Biography [ ]

Jack was the husband of Wendy Torrance , the father of Danny Torrance and Lucy Stone , the son of Mark Anthony Torrance and an unnamed mother, brother to Becky Torrance and two unnamed brothers, uncle of Jackie Torrance , and the grandfather of Abra Stone . Jack was an author and a former teacher who accepted a position as the winter caretaker of the Overlook Hotel in Colorado , and had an opportunity to write a play.

Jack grew up in a middle-class catholic setting on the United States East Coast. Although Jack's father, Mark Torrence, was mentally and physically abusive towards every member of his family throughout Jack's childhood, Jack seemed to have developed a love for the earlier years of their relationship. He saw his father's loud arrivals home as a means to break the silence, and would bond with him in spite of the abuse. However, this affection would end at age 7 after Mark's treatment towards his wife left her concussed and hospitalized.

Jack's siblings despised their father for his abuse. While they also despised the role their mother's devout Catholicism played in convincing her to stay with him, Jack developed a hatred for her specifically for her meek, pitiful appearance. This trait would develop into a deep misogyny as Jack grew older, despising women for appearing weak, while also detesting his wife whenever she would stand up for herself.

Growing up, Jack would take his domestic abuse out on his classmates and animals. Jack got good grades in school, but often underwent punishment for lashing out and fighting other kids. After developing a liking for alcohol, his taste grew into full alcoholism in his 20s. Eventually, the only incident truly capable of shocking Jack into quitting drinking is an incident in which he harmed his son, Danny, during one of his binges. This set a difference between Jack and his father, as Jack truly regretted any instance of abuse towards his son, and held a small level of understanding of his own problems. Apart from the injury, Jack and Danny held a good relationship similar to the relationship Jack believed he had with his father earlier in his childhood.

The evil spirits that inhabited the Overlook Hotel would eventually drive Jack insane by way of drowning him in his alcoholism, past trauma, and fears of becoming as abusive as his father. The spirits possess him into attempting to murder his family with a roque mallet, which is revealed when his wife realized that 'redrum', the word that Jack had been writing on the walls, means murder backwards. His son, Danny, had developed psychic abilities he used to try to protect Jack from the hotel's influence, regaining his sanity. Wendy, Danny, and Dick Hallorann would escape the hotel, but unfortunately, Jack's sanity re-arrived too late, leaving him trapped in the hotel boiler room when it explodes. He dies and the hotel is left destroyed.

In the 1980 film, Jack (Jack Nicholson) does not get possessed by the hotel and is instead convinced into killing his family. At the end, he chases Danny through the hotel hedge maze. Danny (who'd played in the maze with his mother earlier in the film) recognizes how to escape, leaving Jack to freeze to death. In the 1997 miniseries, Jack was played by Steven Weber. Jack's final fate in the 1997 film was more true to the novel. Unlike the 1980 film, Jack's redemption was "rewarded" of sorts when a full grown Danny is seen graduating from a school. Jack's ghost momentarily appears to congratulate his son on completing his studies.

Jack appeared in the novel Doctor Sleep , in which Danny (as an adult, went by "Dan") discovered that he had a half-sister named Lucy, and a niece named Abra who had similar abilities to him — only more powerful. Dan saw a vision of his father at what used to be the Overlook Hotel near the end of the novel.

The Shining (novel) [ ]

In the novel, Jack Torrance is a loving but troubled father who cares deeply for Wendy and Danny but does not know how to show it properly. Jack's alcoholism and violent temper had lost him a job as a teacher of literature at a prestigious New England prep school. One day he catches a student he'd cut from the debate team -- the boy had a severe stutter that impeded his ability to debate -- slashing his tires. Jack cannot not contain his fury and he beats the student on the spot, only regaining his senses after he seriously injures the boy. The school board of trustees decides to suspend Jack until they can figure out how to proceed. Jack's closest friend, fellow recovering alcoholic Al Shockley, gives Jack the opportunity to become the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel during the off-season so he could make a recovery and return to the school and prove he was ready to teach again. Jack, Wendy and Danny arrive at the Overlook Hotel on closing day. Jack is fairly surprised by how many people are still at the hotel on closing day. He and his family are given a tour around the hotel kitchen by Hallorann and the rest of the hotel by Stuart Ullman before they are left alone. As time goes by and the isolation of the hotel sets in, Jack’s behaviour slowly changes. Jack finds an old scrapbook detailing the hotel's history, including many incidents of violence and corruption among the hotel's several owners over the decades it has been open. Jack becomes obsessed enough with the hotel's sordid past that he wants to write a book about it. He makes a long-distance call to the hotel's manager, Stuart Ullmann, and antagonizes him with this knowledge.

Eventually, he goes mad thanks to the influence of the hotel’s ghosts and attempts to kill Wendy and Danny. His plan does not work though and Wendy and Danny escape with Dick Hallorann who came to save Wendy and Danny as the hotel boiler explodes, killing Jack and destroying the Overlook completely.

Doctor Sleep (novel) [ ]

Jack Torrance does not appear in Doctor Sleep until the very end in which he appears as a ghost at the Bluebell Campgrounds, which was built over the Overlook Hotel and is the home of The True Knot looking over Danny, appearing proud.

Doctor Sleep (movie) [ ]

In the film version of Doctor Sleep, Jack is instead seen at the bar of the Overlook Hotel, having taken Lloyd's place as bartender.

Misery (novel) [ ]

Jack does not appear in Misery , but is mentioned. In Chapter 24, Annie refers to the Overlook Hotel, mentioning that a man burned it down. Referring to Jack, who allowed the hotel to burn down after not properly maintaining the boilers in the hotel's basement. This mentions that Jack is dead during the events of Misery .

It: Chapter Two [ ]

While terrorizing Beverly Marsh in a bathroom cubicle, It briefly takes on the form of Henry Bowers , yelling "HERE'S JOHNNY!" as Jack did to Wendy in Stanley Kubrick's film.

Ready Player One [ ]

Jack makes a brief cameo appearance in the film Ready Player One , in The Shining level, as he is chasing Aech. However, Jack is seen backward as his face isn't seen at all.

  • Stephen King never liked the 1980 movie. His dislike for the movie was used in Ready Player One where the protagonists have to find the answer to the riddle " a creator who hates his own creation ".
  • In the novel, Jack gets redemption and burns the Overlook Hotel down; in the 1980 film, Jack doesn't get redemption, he simply freezes to death in the hedge maze while attempting to kill his son Danny, dying as a monster.
  • Jack is currently the only Stephen King villain to be both the protagonist and antagonist.
  • Unlike the novel, Jack's full name, John Daniel Edward Torrance, is never mentioned in the film series, and is only known as John Torrance.
  • Jack's role was solely switched as the main antagonist of The Shining film, since he was giving more depth than the Overlook Hotel.
  • It is possible that Jack could've also had psychic abilities that were repressed alongside the abuse he endured early in his childhood.
  • In the sequel to The Shining , Doctor Sleep , it was revealed that during his days as an English professor, Jack Torrance had an affair with a student and she had a daughter named Lucy. Lucy would go on to have a daughter of her own named Abra, who possessed a more potent version of the Shining. That would make Jack Abra's grandfather, and Danny Lucy's half-brother (and therefore Abra's uncle). His ghost would appear briefly to assist his granddaughter in the climax.
  • In The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror 5 , there is a parody of The Shining titled The Shinning where Homer is driven insane after Mr. Burns and Waylon Smithers cut off the beer supply and Cable TV, causing him to attempt to kill his family. His wife, Marge poses as Wendy Torrance, his son Bart poses as Danny Torrance (who possesses an ability called the Shinning ) and Groundskeeper Willie poses as Dick Halloran. This episode was dubbed as the scariest Simpsons Halloween Special.

Appearances [ ]

  • The Shining (film)
  • The Shining (miniseries)
  • The Shining (opera)
  • Doctor Sleep (film)
  • Castle Rock (TV Series) (Mentioned)

Gallery [ ]

Jack TS

  • Stephen King
  • 1 Overlook Hotel
  • 3 Randall Flagg

The Shining Ending Explained: One Of The Most Famous Horror Conclusions Ever Deserves A Fresh Look

The Shining

Perhaps no single film in the horror genre has been as closely analyzed, picked apart, and scrutinized as Stanley Kubrick's 1980 masterpiece "The Shining." Ostensibly an adaptation of Stephen King's 1977 potboiler of the same name, the film itself uses the same basic structure of the novel (troubled family become winter caretakers at a mountain hotel, dad goes crazy in the isolation, ghosts and alcoholism are involved) but takes some big left-field swings with the material in the third act. There's even a whole documentary called "Room 237" that dissects the film's symbology through the eyes of movie conspiracy theorists.

The ending itself has been of particular debate over the years, and was even altered by Kubrick AFTER the film's release. Let's dive into the enigma that is "The Shining," shall we?

What Happens...

The basic gist of the ending kicks off when, in the first moment of confirmed supernatural intervention in the film, the ghost of previous caretaker Delbert Grady (Philip Stone) inhabiting the Overlook Hotel sets Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) free from his confinement in the pantry freezer. Echoing the rampage of Grady from years prior, Jack begins running amok in the hotel, attempting to kill his family with an axe (a croquet mallet in the book). Cornering them in a bathroom, his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) helps son Danny (Danny Lloyd) escape through the window which she is too big to fit through. Jack chops through the door but Wendy fends him off with a knife.

Then Overlook chef Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers) arrives after sensing via "Shining" (King's term for ESP), and Jack heads off to murder him with the axe. He then pursues Danny into the hotel's outdoor hedge maze, and after hotly pursuing his boy's tracks, Danny fools his father by tracing backwards over his own tracks and then escaping. Jack is misled through the maze, and winds up lost in the freezing cold. As Wendy and Danny escape in the snowcat that Hallorann brought with him, Jack slumps down amid the freezing maze, exhausted and muttering. A jump cut shows him the next morning completely frozen, literally stone cold dead.

The final shot has the camera gliding through The Gold Room out into the hallway where rows of photographs from the hotel's past are hung. It hones in right at the photo in the center, which depicts a massive July 4 ball at the Overlook in 1921, with Jack Torrance front-and-center, smiling almost maniacally right into the camera as "Midnight, the Stars & You" by Henry Hall & The Gleneagles Hotel Band plays hauntingly into the credits. As horror filmmakers have practiced time and time again, there's nothing like old music by dead people to set a mood.

What it Means...

The key to understanding the ending lies in Grady's ominous portent to Jack in the bathroom midway through the film: "You are the caretaker. You've always been the caretaker. I should know, sir... I've always been here." In essence, the Overlook Hotel has some kind of bad juju about it that makes it a center of supernatural activity. Perhaps it's the fact that it was contaminated by the actions of "all the best people" that stayed there over the years, the rich and powerful, movie stars and royalty. It could also be that when it was built between 1907 and 1909 it happened to be on top of an ancient Native American burial ground, with the builders having to "fight off a few Indian attacks while they were building it"... you know, that old chestnut? 

What do the spirits that inhabit the place want? Souls, of course. How does it get them? By influencing those that are most unstable and vulnerable, like poor recovering alcoholic Jack Torrance, or Grady for that matter. Influencing them to murder, to claim souls on behalf of the hotel. Grady succeeded in killing his children, whose corpses Danny sees scattered in the hallway, thus he and they are "claimed" by the hotel "forever... and ever... and ever." Wendy and Danny managed to escape, but Jack did not, thus he becomes part of the hotel itself, past and present. The next poor SOB to take the job of winter caretaker may just have an encounter with Jack dressed in coat and tails in the hotel bathroom. 

This ending has many differences from the novel, chiefly the climax which involves hedge animals coming to life instead of a hedge maze, something that with 1980 technology would have looked rather ridiculous. King's ending also has the boilers exploding from neglect and the Overlook burning down as Wendy, Danny and a very much alive Dick Hallorann escape. A literal pyrrhic victory. 

"The ending was changed almost entirely because Kubrick found it a cliche to just blow everything up," the film's co-screenwriter Diane Johnson told Entertainment Weekly . "He thought there might be something else that would be metaphorically and visually more interesting."

By leaving the Overlook "alive" at the end of the film, Kubrick was able to ensure its menace would not be diminished in the audiences mind. The idea of killing off Dick was also done to raise the dramatic levels of the story and heighten the horror. At one point killing Danny was even discussed, with Kubrick imagining a small chalk outline of the boy's body on the hotel floor, but cooler heads prevailed. 

Kubrick's Original Ending

A crucial scene right at the end of "The Shining" was infamously deleted after the first week of previews in New York and Los Angeles. It takes place after the shot of Jack frozen, and finds Wendy and Danny recovering from their traumatic experience in a hospital. Stuart Ullman (Barry Nelson, actually the first actor to play James Bond in a television show in 1954!) comes to visit the two to let them know that no evidence of the supernatural was found. Then, in a haunting callback, Ullman tosses Danny the same yellow tennis ball that was rolled to him in the hallway at the hotel.

"The tennis ball is the same thing as the photograph — it's unexplainable," producer Jan Harlan told EW. "It makes Ullman now another ghost element. Was he the ghost from the very beginning? The film is complex enough because nothing is explained... When the film [screened for critics] and wasn't well received, Warners quite rightly suggested, 'It's enough, just take [the hospital scene] out.' So Stanley did it. He's not stubborn, especially since this is a film mainly to entertain people. But Stanley was actually very sad that he misread the audience, that he trusted the audience to live with puzzles and no answers, and that they didn't like it."

Would this extra coda have made the film scarier? Would it have explained too much? Been more confusing? It's hard to tell, since all copies of this ending were destroyed at Kubrick's request. At least Stanley got the ending he wanted.

The Ending Of The Shining Explained

Jack Nicholson in The Shining

For nearly 40 years now, The Shining has reigned as one of the most acclaimed and terrifying horror films ever made. Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's novel about a haunted hotel and a boy with a frightening power remains endlessly fascinating. So fascinating, in fact, that its obsessive fans and their continued analysis spawned an entirely separate film — the documentary Room 237 — that's just about picking apart its many details and apparent hidden meanings.

For many fans, though, it all comes down to that abrupt, ambiguous, and intriguing ending. What does that famous final shot really mean, and what do those unanswered questions in the film imply about the aftermath for the characters left alive? It's time to talk about those questions, and perhaps even arrive at some answers. This is the ending of The Shining explained... or, at least, as close to an explanation as we can get without making a documentary of our own.

Wendy's story

Though she may not always seem it at first glance because she spends much of the film in a state of dread or outright terror, Wendy Torrance ( Shelley Duvall ) is the heart of The Shining . As Jack ( Jack Nicholson ) begins his descent into madness, she's the one holding her family unit together, checking on the Overlook's heating systems and communicating with the forest service when the phone lines go down. Even as Jack ratchets up his emotional abuse, she still holds things together for the sake of her son. Wendy finally finds enough strength to survive Jack's physical attacks and escape with Danny (Danny Lloyd) in the snowcat at the end of the film. 

We are given no clues as to what Danny and Wendy will do now that they're free of Jack's clutches, or even if they truly do make it safely to civilization after vanishing into the night. We have no way of knowing what direction Wendy's life will take from here, but Jack does indicate early in the film that she's a "confirmed ghost story and horror film addict." Now that Wendy has lived out her own horror film, perhaps she'd like to tell that story publicly?

Danny's uncertain future

In Danny's case, the future is perhaps even more murky, because he's just a boy unprepared to decide his own destiny. Having to trap his own father in a freezing hedge maze to escape murder, and then flee a haunted hotel where he'd just seen so many terrible things, is obviously going to have a massive impact on him. If you want to go with Stephen King's version of events, Danny's future is at least partially written. He suffers from alcoholism, like his father, and ultimately gets a job at a hospital where he's able to help guide the dying into the next realm. He once again encounters someone who can shine, this time a young girl, and fights to save her from a group of psychic vampires who roam the United States. 

This is all covered in King's novel Doctor Sleep , the official sequel to The Shining  (which will be getting a film of its own in 2020). Kubrick's adaptation of the original story makes some drastic changes, leaving the movie's Danny not necessarily bound to the same fate. Still, even if he never finds anyone else who can shine, he'll definitely be searching for the rest of his life.

An improved caretaker system

In King's novel, the Overlook's boiler explodes at the end of the story because Jack failed to maintain it, which means the hotel is destroyed with him inside. That doesn't happen in Kubrick's film. The Overlook is still very much intact, and grisly murder aside, its owners will likely want to keep it in business after they manage to thaw Jack's body and clean up the mess he left. This leaves the question of what to do about the caretaker job, now that two of the men who've held the position have lost their minds and murdered people in the span of just a decade. 

Someone has to stay and look after the place, of course, but maybe Ullman (Barry Nelson) would be open to some kind of alternative caretaker system. Perhaps the hotel will invest in more snowcats and have people trade off the job throughout the off-season. Perhaps a team of people will take the job rather than one man and whatever family he cares to bring with him. Perhaps the Forest Service could be persuaded to make regular checks. Whatever the case, the hotel's management has to enact some kind of change now that a pattern is emerging.

A curious media

One reason the Overlook's management will likely have to make changes is the shifting media landscape in 1980, the in which the film was released and (presumably) is set. Television and radio reports are present throughout the film as the characters tune in for news of the outside world. When Wendy and Danny arrive down in Sidewinder, they are very likely to tell their story in a way that some savvy journalist or other will latch on to it. 

We don't know if Wendy would dare tell the story's more supernatural details to the press, but anyone who simply investigates Jack Torrance's rampage will also likely dig up the Grady story from a decade earlier, and the Overlook will be the site of the kind of media frenzy that might make Ullman and his cohorts quite nervous indeed. There's no way of knowing how long or how intense the media blast would be, but it's hard to imagine Jack Torrance's crimes going ignored in the same year that CNN was launched .

Secretive management

There's another, more sinister aspect to the way the Overlook's staff may or may not react to what happened with the Torrance family over the winter, something Shining fans have long discussed. Though he seems reluctant to talk about the Grady incident at first, Ullman ultimately seems all too casual about when it is mentioned, and takes Jack at his word that he'll be fine. He later mentions the Indian burial ground upon which the hotel is built in a casual, almost showy way, while giving the tour. 

There's something vaguely sinister built into every frame of The Shining . The film is designed to unsettle us constantly, and Ullman's appearances are no different. So, we are forced to ask the question: does Ullman know that his hotel is haunted? Does he know that the place needs to let its demons run free every once in a while, and that the caretaker will go crazy and murder his family? Is it a kind of blood sacrifice to appease the ancient evils that roam the place, so they can have a happy and prosperous business season each year? The Overlook's mythology is simply kept too vague for us to be sure, but it's very possible that Ullman isn't telling Jack everything he really knows about the place.

A meaningful image

The most debated element of The Shining 's ending is the revelation in the final shot that Jack is present in a photo of the Overlook's Fourth of July party in 1921. This could mean a few things. It could mean that Jack has, after communing with the Overlook's many spirits, simply been absorbed in death into its history, and now walks the haunted world where all eras seem to be happening at once. It could also mean that Jack was fulfilling some kind of twisted destiny by being at the Overlook, and the hotel is reflecting that. 

There's one particular interpretation accepted by most fans. Jack was trapped in a cycle of violence and death that dominates the Overlook and many of its guests and residents, and he was a reincarnated soul who was always meant to come back to the hotel. This is backed up by the conversation in the red bathroom, when Grady tells him he's "always been the caretaker," and it seems the most likely explanation. Caretaker murders, Indian burial grounds, and all the cycles and mirror images in the film suggest that the Overlook is a place where history repeats itself, and Jack was always meant to be a part of that.

Other hidden faces

If you watch The Shining all the way through, get to that final shot of Jack in the photo, and then rewatch it, you will notice something that particularly stands out about the Overlook. There are framed black and white photos from throughout the hotel's history everywhere . They're on all the walls in the Colorado Lounge, including half-walls that form the base of staircases. Dozens of them, all in identical frames, all covering the hotel's illustrious history as Ullman explains that "all the best people" stayed there in its heyday. 

If Jack was indeed a reincarnation of a past guest, and he was indeed always in the photo, how long will it be before someone — either accidentally or as part of their own research — notices him there? And if he's there, it stands to reason that Grady would be there too, proving he was also a victim of the cycle of reincarnation and violence. If the fallout from the latest Overlook tragedy goes on long enough, those photos will likely mean something to someone, and that will set off an entirely different kind of investigation.

"There are other folks"

When Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers) sits down with Danny to explain to him what "shining" is and how he knew so much about him, he tells the boy, "There are other folks, though often they don't know it or don't believe it." Danny is young and hasn't had a lot of experience in the world, but now that he's lived through the Overlook ordeal, he will almost certainly take Dick's words to heart as he goes about his daily life. He will be looking for others who can shine, whether consciously or not, and he will eventually try to find out how many of them have had similar experiences to his own. 

Are people with this ability simply drawn to places with innate supernatural presences, or are they able to sense the spirits present wherever they are? The film only scratches the surface, but as Dick's time in the living world ends, Danny's is just beginning, and he's about to go on his own journey.

Breaking the cycle

The Shining is a film about cyclical violence, and about how we can't escape the dark specter of history. The Overlook is built on the sacred lands of Native Americans slaughtered by white expansion, and blood continues to spill there. Jack Torrance has always been the caretaker. His alcoholic tendencies come back to tempt him when he's in the Overlook's grip. Wendy sees Danny injured and immediately thinks it was Jack, because he's hurt their son before. Grady killed his family, and his daughters warn Danny of what's to come for him. Jack's eventual weapon of choice, like Grady's, is an ax. 

And yet, by the end of the film, only Dick — who wasn't supposed to be there — and Jack himself are dead. Wendy and Danny escape relatively unscathed. Does this mean that, through their survival, they've somehow broken the cycle? Does this mean the Overlook's evil sway is at least somewhat lessened? It's not clear, but there is hope.

Are there hidden meanings in The Shining?

Over the years, The Shining  has spawned some of the most elaborate and bizarre fan theories you'll ever hear about any film. An entire documentary,  Room 237 , rose out of this subset of Shining fan culture, and over the years, these theorists have posited any number of ideas about what the film "really" means. For some, it's a secret admission and apology for Kubrick's supposed faking of the moon landing in 1969. For others, it's the story of the mythical Minotaur. There are even some people who think the true meaning of the film is unlocked by watching it backwards.

Many of these theories rose out of Kubrick's famous filmmaking precision. These fans can't believe that a detail-oriented filmmaker like Kubrick would leave any single object or moment to chance, so it all had to be part of a larger meaning. But according to Kubrick's co-writer, Diane Johnson, that's really not the case.

"Very often, crew members asked him, 'Can you explain that to me?'" Johnson recalled to Entertainment Weekly ."And he said, 'I never explain anything, I don't understand it myself. It's a ghost film!' You can't imagine how much fuss was made over the big golden ballroom and the big lobby and huge windows that could never have fit into the hotel [based on the] establishing shot from outside. Any child can see that. And Stanley's explanation was, 'It's a ghost film! Forget it!' ... It's not a movie with a serious message."

Of course, at the very end of the film, when Jack Torrance pops up in that old-timey photograph, his pose looks kinda familiar — you know, like the image of Baphomet , a deity long associated with the devil and Satanism. Does that mean Jack is burning in Hell for his sins? Maybe ... or maybe we're just reading too much into a super creepy photo.

Jack Torrance returns

In 2019, The Shining got a much-anticipated, big-screen sequel in the form of Mike Flanagan's Doctor Sleep . Though it was adapted from Stephen King's novel of the same name, Flanagan knew he had to pay tribute to the cinematic version of the Torrance family story, as well as the literary one. To do that, he reworked parts of King's novel so that the Overlook Hotel could still be standing, as it was in Kubrick's film world. This gave the now-adult Dan Torrance a chance to go back and to see what had become of his old man.

In Doctor Sleep , when Dan returns to an Overlook that was left to rot after his father went insane, he finds the old ghosts are still there and that his father is now among them. And when Dan sits down in the hotel's gold ballroom, he discovers that the bartender is now a version of his father, resentful and manipulative and full of malice as he tries to suck Dan back down into the self-destructive, alcoholic cycle that he himself fell victim to. Dan is ultimately able to resist his father, and by the end of the film, the hotel is destroyed for good. That doesn't mean the ghosts are gone, though, as the film also confirms that they can still find the people who visited them if given enough time.

Screen Rant

The shining: why there are so many mirrors (& what they really mean).

The Shining is believed to have many hidden meanings, including one that explains why there are mirrors in specific scenes. Let's take a look.

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining has been analyzed countless times over the years due to all the symbolism and little details in every scene that have made the audience believe there’s a lot more than the “superficial” story it tells. Among those details are the mirrors, which appear in certain scenes and have made way for different interpretations. Back in 1977, Stephen King’s third novel The Shining was published, and its success helped establish King as a preeminent author in the horror genre. Three years later, the novel made the jump to the big screen, but with a lot of changes to the story and the characters.

Directed by Stanley Kubrick, The Shining follows Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) an aspiring writer and recovering alcoholic who takes a job as the off-season caretaker of the Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Rockies and takes his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and son Danny (Danny Lloyd) with him. After a snowstorm leaves them cut off from the outside world, the supernatural forces living in the hotel begin to play with Jack’s sanity, while Danny struggles with his powers, referred to as “the shining” , which awake the hotel’s evil forces. Time has been good to The Shining , which is now considered one of the best movies ever, even if Stephen King has never liked it .

Related: The Shining's Bear Man Is The Film's Biggest Mystery: Here's What It Means

Kubrick took a lot of creative liberties when bringing The Shining to the big screen, something that Stephen King (understandably) didn’t like. Still, Kubrick’s work has been endlessly praised, and there are a lot of details in the movie that either hint at upcoming events or offer different interpretations of the story, as happens with the mirrors that can be seen throughout the film. Over the years, viewers have pointed out that mirrors only appear in The Shining in certain scenes and moments, making way for different theories on what was really going on between the Overlook Hotel and Jack.

Every time Jack sees or interacts with a ghost from the hotel, there’s a mirror in the scene. For example, when he encounters the woman in room 237 and later during his conversation with Grady in the red bathroom, with the only exception being the one scene where he can’t see the ghost: when Jack is locked up in the kitchen pantry and Grady talks to him from the other side of the door. This, as suggested by many, indicates that the ghosts in the Overlook Hotel are not real, and instead they are a reflection of Jack’s broken psyche. This would put an end to the endless discussion on whether the ghosts were real or not, but there are other scenes that contradict this idea: every time Danny saw the Grady twins , there were no mirrors around, same towards the end of the movie, where Wendy began to see ghosts too.

Others have suggested the mirrors were Kubrick’s way to represent how Jack was starting to blend with the hotel’s consciousness, which would ultimately mean that Jack was, in fact, talking to himself. Perhaps the mirrors were added by Kubrick to show how Jack was becoming one with the hotel, as a mirror of his inner demons, or maybe they were a way to show Jack’s affinity with the ghosts and further accentuate how distant he was with his family – ultimately, it’s up to every viewer to choose the interpretation that better fits their vision of The Shining .

Next: The Shining: Every Theory On What Kubrick's Movie Is Really About

This Unnerving Detail of Jack Nicholson's Performance Makes 'The Shining' Even Creepier

Just when you thought 'The Shining' couldn't get any creepier, an expert discovered this uncanny detail.

Ever since its release 43 years ago, The Shining has been one of the most hotly discussed, debated, and dissected movies to ever grace the silver screen. Stanley Kubrick 's masterful adaptation of Stephen King 's novel blends psychological and supernatural horror to create a surrealistic thriller that practically begs multiple interpretations. Through documentaries like Room 237 to books like Kubrick's Labyrinth , scholars and fans alike have seemingly read the film through every possible lens. However, like the Overlook hotel itself, just when you think all of The Shining 's mysteries have been unearthed, something new comes along to make the film even more intriguing and chilling than before.

Jack Nicholson's (Intentionally) Wandering Eye

Last week, Filippo Ulivieri , a film scholar who has published two books and several essays on Kubrick, released a video essay titled " Overlooked! A Detail In The Shining That You've Never Seen ." In the 11-minute video (and accompanying 50-tweet thread ), Ulivieri points out a conspicuous detail that nobody has ever publicly picked up on in The Shining . With the clips and stills to prove it, Ulivieri reveals that at numerous points throughout the film, leading man Jack Nicholson looks directly into the camera.

RELATED: Every Stanley Kubrick Movie, Ranked

This may not seem like a huge revelation at first. After all, Kubrick often has his actors gaze ominously in what has been dubbed the "Kubrick Stare" and Nicholson does this quite notably in one of The Shining 's most infamously creepy shots. However, what Ulivieri refers to is different from the Kubrick Stare. What he's discovered is the odd behavior of Nicholson making repeated direct eye contact with the supposedly objective lens, often for no longer than a frame. Ulivieri has to slow down or even pause the film to capture many of these fleeting, but nonetheless unnerving moments.

If it were in any other film, these evanescent instances could be written off as coincidental moments where the actor accidentally crossed eye-lines with the camera. However, given that it's Kubrick — who had a background in photography and was notoriously meticulous about getting each frame of his movies just right — we can't assume that Nicholson's camera glances weren't intentional. In fact, Ulivieri even references a moment in the behind-the-scenes documentary Making The Shining , where Kubrick blatantly directs Nicholson to look at the camera during a take. Clearly, there was some method at hand.

Stanley Kubrick's Subjective Camera... Without A Subject

So what does this mean? Why did Kubrick want Nicholson (or rather, Jack Torrance) to glance down the barrel of the lens throughout the movie's two-and-a-half-hour runtime? Usually, when filmmakers have characters look into the camera, they are trying to achieve one of two things. On the one hand, they may be endorsing a subjective camera, where the lens is meant to portray a character's point of view. In these moments throughout The Shining , that would mean Nicholson is making eye contact with another character. In the moments that Ulivieri identifies, however, there is no other visible character in Jack's eyeline. At the same time, Ulivieri brings up the interesting point that the camera could represent an unseen character in these instances. The Shining , after all, is a ghost story, so even though the reverse shots expose no tangible beings, it's possible that Jack is looking at a spirit .

This theory gains more credence when one realizes that Nicholson's Jack Torrance is the only character who makes these repeated glances at the camera. While Jack is not the only character who sees the Overlook Hotel's ghosts, he does have the most interaction with them. Likewise, the film leaves it up to the viewer to decide whether all the apparitions are indeed the undead, or just figments of Jack's twisted imagination and deteriorating mind. Perhaps he is the only one looking at the camera, because he sees something that nobody else — not even the viewer — can observe.

Kubrick Toppled Horror Conventions

The second common reason directors have actors look into the camera is for the sake of breaking the fourth wall , allowing characters to directly address or acknowledge the audience. As Ulivieri notes, however, Kubrick's work, as well as his filmmaking philosophy, resists such meta intellectualism. Then again, maybe that is why Torrance's glances are so hard to notice. It is not as if he straightforwardly invites the viewer into the scene, but rather subliminally suggests that they, too, are tied in the Overlook's web of hauntings and madness . It subconsciously adds to the film's ubiquitous eeriness, forcing the viewers to feel personally threatened by Jack, or perhaps (if the camera is indeed meant to be an apparition) to consider the reality that they too exist along a fragile mortal and mental spectrum.

Ulivieri further suggests that Kubrick may have endorsed the fourth-wall-breaking trope to subvert horror iconography. Horror movies are often tied to voyeurism, as the audience can feel safe while relishing in the sight of violence. Because Kubrick wanted to make something deeper than a generic horror movie with The Shinin g, he could have added these moments to destabilize the audience's sense of safety. Ulivieri dosen't mention that it could also be a reversal of the Killer POV shots that graced so many horror movies preceding The Shining . Used most recognizably in the opening sequence of Halloween , but also endorsed in everything from Psycho to Jaws , the Killer POV shot implies a sustained tracking shot from the killer or monster's perspective, putting the audience in the antagonists subjective shoes for the ultimate voyeuristic experience. When Jack looks at the camera, it does the opposite, forcing the audience to become the object of the killer's gaze.

These are only a handful of theories. Because The Shining is supposedly riddled with so many hidden messages and meanings, there is practically no end to how far down the rabbit hole one wants to take the reading of Ulivieri's new discovery. Maybe Jack glances at the camera as a way to signal the audience that they should pay attention, because Kubrick is about to reveal something about Native American genocide, the mythological fable of the Minotaur, or the fact that he assisted in faking the moon landing one year after 2001: A Space Odyssey 's release. These are all things that viewers have claimed The Shining is secretly about. The truth may never be determined, but the fact that audiences are still finding new details over four decades after its premiere speaks to the awesome, abstract power of The Shining , and the insatiable talents of Stanley Kubrick.

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preview for Stanley Kubrick's The Shining New Trailer

The Shining ending explained: Revisiting the mysteries of the classic horror

All work and no play etc etc.

The Shining ending spoilers to follow. (Kudos to you if you've managed to avoid 'em for the last 41 years.)

It was a box-office flop when it was released in 1980 and Stephen King, who wrote the novel on which it's based, doesn't like it. Nevertheless, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining is now widely considered one of the most effective horror films of all time.

King's original version reads (and most notably, ends) like a fairly standard ghost story about a father and husband who succumbs to personal demons and poltergeist-like forces before attempting to murder his family.

Kubrick's take is slightly less straightforward, culminating in a mind-bending final shot that has sparked many a 'what do you think it means?' debate over the past four decades.

Like the book, the movie begins with writer and recovering alcoholic Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) putting himself up for a job as the winter caretaker of the historic Overlook Hotel. And it's established fairly early on that this Jack has a snide streak he's not all that bothered about suppressing, unlike his literary counterpart.

the shining jack nicholson

During his interview, the manager informs Jack that the last guy who looked after the place, Charles Grady, killed his family and then himself. Convinced that the hotel's solitude will inspire his creativity, Jack accepts the position anyway, and he, his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and their son Danny (Danny Lloyd) head up to the vast venue for the off-season.

During the first month of their stay, Jack becomes increasingly irritable about his lack of focus and chastises Wendy often, accusing her of distracting him. He rarely interacts with Danny, who, due to his psychic and telepathic abilities, starts experiencing terrifying visions of two twin girls and a decomposing, naked old woman.

Things take a turn when Danny emerges bruised from a room he was instructed not to enter by the hotel's head chef Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers), who possesses the same supernatural skills as the littl'un. At first, Wendy accuses Jack of beating Danny, which enrages him and causes him to storm off. He then stumbles across an empty ballroom and sits down at the bar, prompting the 'arrival' of a lone bartender.

the shining jack nicholson

Nursing a bourbon, Jack confesses to hurting his son once when he'd been drinking. His admission is interrupted though when Wendy, frightened, rushes in and tells him that Danny was attacked by a "crazy woman" in room 237. Jack goes to check out said room and winds up kissing a young woman, who reveals herself to be a rotting corpse.

Jack then lies to Wendy, assuring her that he didn't see anything and that Danny must have harmed himself, before heading back to the ballroom – which is now full of guests dressed for a 1920s-themed party.

This sequence is one of the movie's most significant when it comes to making sense of its ending, as it sees Jack interact with a waiter, who introduces himself as Delbert Grady.

He mentions his wife and two daughters, which prompts Jack, who recognises the moniker and family set-up, to ask him whether he's ever worked as the hotel's caretaker. Grady rebuffs the question by noting that Jack has "always been the caretaker". When Jack disputes the notion, Grady insists that he would know because he's "always been" there as well.

As the chat continues, Grady tells Jack that Danny has contacted Hallorann using his talents, and that the cook is subsequently on his way to the Overlook. He urges Jack to "correct" his son's behaviour and suggests that if Wendy gets in the way, he "correct" her, too – much like he did his own wife and children.

the shining shelley duvall

Related: The Shining 'Here's Johnny' scene voted film's most iconic door moment

'Redrum' and 'All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy' moments aside, what follows is a tense game of cat-and-mouse as Wendy tries to flee the hotel with Danny, as an axe-wielding Jack runs around the place trying to find them.

When Hallorann shows up, Jack murders him. (In the book, Jack only injures Hallorann. Kubrick and co-writer Diane Johnson rewrote the scene to give the movie more of a horror edge.)

Elsewhere, Danny manages to exit the hotel through a bathroom window. Jack chases after him and the pair end up in the huge maze inside of the hotel's grounds, where Danny tricks his father by creating false footprints in the snow.

He hides as Jack drives himself more mad trying to find the youngster, before eventually escaping and reuniting with Wendy. The duo drive off in Hallorann's snowcat.

the shining jack nicholson

Related: How HBO's The Outsider was influenced by The Shining

The following morning, Jack is seen frozen to death in the snow, before the camera cuts back to the hotel hallway and zooms in on a photograph of a suited-and-booted Jack celebrating at an event dated July 4, 1921.

Over the years, viewers have stated that the photo symbolises how the hotel has consumed Jack entirely, and absorbed him into its history. According to Diane Johnson, however, there's more to it.

"There is an explanation, though it's a bit strange and paradoxical because it's both real and unreal — the idea that Jack was always at the hotel in some earlier incarnation," she told Entertainment Weekly back in 2017, which harks back to Grady's "you've always been the caretaker" line.

Jack Torrance is Delbert Grady, much like Delbert Grady is Charles Grady, and so the cycle of violence recurs. "Jack had somehow been the creature of the hotel through reincarnation," Johnson continued. "There's no way of resolving that, it's meant to be magical."

the shining jack nicholson

Related: Why Doctor Sleep didn't remake this iconic scene from The Shining

While he dies in the novel, too, Jack's death plays out differently on the page. In his final moments, the character who is tasked with ensuring the aging boiler doesn't overheat – a detail that doesn't feature in the movie – and the evil entities controlling him are "warned" by Danny that they've neglected the duty for so long, the boiler is on the brink of combustion.

Possessed Jack hurries to the basement, before realising it's too late and getting killed by the explosion. "The ending was changed almost entirely because Kubrick found it a cliché to just blow everything up," said Johnson.

She explained that the filmmaker saw the hotel as an antagonist in itself and by leaving it standing, it can haunt audiences long after the credits rolled. "He thought there might be something else that would be metaphorically and visually more interesting."

Talking in Michel Ciment's Kubrick , Kubrick himself shared that he thought the ending of The Shining to be confirmation that Jack was a reincarnation and that, despite not believing in ghosts, he always viewed the paranormal events that took place at the Overlook as "genuine".

In the past, it has been suggested that the writer-director made his Jack nastier as a way of establishing the picture as an allegory for abuse, and to distance itself from more traditional spooks and scares – a theory he publicly rejected.

"[Jack] doesn't have very much further to go for his anger and frustration to become completely uncontrollable," Kubrick said. "He is bitter about his failure as a writer. He is married to a woman for whom he has only contempt. He hates his son. Jack comes to the hotel psychologically prepared to do its murderous bidding."

He also claimed that "a story of the supernatural cannot be taken apart and analysed too closely. The ultimate test of its rationale is whether it is good enough to raise the hairs on the back of your neck."

The Shining is available to watch on Sky Cinema and NOW .

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The Shining

The Shining (1980)

A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where a sinister presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from both past and future. A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where a sinister presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from both past and future. A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where a sinister presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from both past and future.

  • Stanley Kubrick
  • Stephen King
  • Diane Johnson
  • Jack Nicholson
  • Shelley Duvall
  • Danny Lloyd
  • 2.2K User reviews
  • 382 Critic reviews
  • 66 Metascore
  • 6 wins & 8 nominations

The Shining

  • Jack Torrance

Shelley Duvall

  • Wendy Torrance

Danny Lloyd

  • Young Woman in Bath
  • Old Woman in Bath

Barry Dennen

  • Forest Ranger 1

Manning Redwood

  • Forest Ranger 2
  • Grady Daughter
  • All cast & crew
  • Production, box office & more at IMDbPro

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A Clockwork Orange

Did you know

  • Trivia For the scene in which Jack breaks down the bathroom door, the props department built a door that could be easily broken. However, Jack Nicholson had worked as a volunteer fire marshal and tore it apart far too easily. The props department were then forced to build a stronger door.
  • Goofs During the long shot of the Overlook Hotel in the beginning (right before The Interview title card), the maze cannot be seen, though throughout the rest of the movie it is rather close to the hotel.

Jack Torrance : Here's Johnny!

  • Crazy credits The party music plays over the closing credits. After it ends, we hear the Overlook Hotel ghosts applaud. They then talk amongst themselves until their voices fade away.
  • Alternate versions ABC edited 4 minutes from the film for its 1983 network television premiere.
  • Connections Edited into Hai-Kubrick (1999)
  • Soundtracks The Shining (Main Title) Written by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind Performed by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind Based on "Dream of a Witches' Sabbath" from Symphonie fantastique by Hector Berlioz and traditional requiem "Dies Irae"

User reviews 2.2K

  • chaos-rampant
  • Nov 24, 2008
  • How long is The Shining? Powered by Alexa
  • What is the name of the actor who played the Man in the Bear Costume?
  • If Stephen King hated this movie, why did he completely back a Direct Sequel to this movie?
  • Did the movie events happen the very next winter after Grady killed his family? If not, who was the caretaker in between and what happened during those winters?
  • June 13, 1980 (United States)
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Timberline Lodge, Mount Hood, Oregon, USA (Overlook Hotel; exterior)
  • Warner Bros.
  • See more company credits at IMDbPro
  • $19,000,000 (estimated)
  • $45,634,352
  • May 26, 1980
  • $47,328,250

Technical specs

  • Runtime 2 hours 26 minutes

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Ghosts Aren't The Scariest Part Of The Shining

lisa and louise burns in the shining

The Shining is without question one of the most beloved and best regarded horror movies of all time, currently sitting at number two behind only (surprise) The Exorcist on the list of the 1,000 best horror movies at They Shoot Zombies, Don't They? , a weighted list aggregated from hundreds of "best of" lists. It's also incredibly iconic; even those who have never seen the movie would recognize its most lasting scenes, lines, and images. "Redrum," "Here's Johnny," and "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy" are all references that many people would find familiar, even if they couldn't name the movie they were from.

But there are plenty who do recognize the source of these references and who love them devotedly, inspiring everything from a bar with visuals and cocktails  themed around the movie to neckties featuring the Overlook's distinctive carpet design . But what's more, there are those who study them intimately. The Shining is probably one of the most discussed and analyzed movies ever made in any genre, due partly to the mystique surrounding its director, Stanley Kubrick, but also due to the fact that it's just straight-up pretty darn scary. What is it about the movie that causes it to linger so powerfully in the public consciousness? Is it the ghosts? The ax murders both attempted and successful? The dude in the bear suit going to town on that other dude? The cascade of blood gushing from the elevators? Or is there something more primal and visceral that sticks with us?

Heads up: Heeeeeeeere's spoilers!

Spirits of the Overlook

A lot of horror movies seem to lose their horrific impact over time; surely very few people today above elementary school age would find much to be afraid of in the classic Universal chillers of the '30s and '40s, despite their contemporary reputations. There is no shortage of reasons for this, including evolving social mores and a broadening of what is seen as acceptable in popular culture leading to desensitization, and so on. But whatever lies behind this phenomenon, the fact is that The Shining has, over the course of nearly 40 years, maintained its reputation as one of the scariest movies ever made , and indeed that reputation has arguably grown over that time.

A big part of its success comes from shrewdly playing up the physical space: an enormous, quiet, empty hotel that maybe isn't quite as empty as advertised. The fear that we all experience in a big, empty building that anything could be lurking around the corner is literalized when Danny turns a corner on his tricycle and encounters the ghostly Grady twins, possibly the most iconic spookums in a movie full of iconic images. Soon the Overlook is full to bursting with ghosts: bartenders appearing from nowhere, revelers with bleeding scalps, parties filling ostensibly empty ballrooms, naked ladies who aren't what they seem, and, you know. The guy in the costume. The lingering notion that anything could be anywhere at any time the way the hotel ghosts are is one that tends to stay with viewers way more than any jump scare.

A flood of fan theories

In fact, this feeling of doubting your own senses and the ambiguity of what should theoretically be objective reality are a big part of why The Shining remains the major cultural touchstone that it is. The Shining poses a lot of questions that are not necessarily answered in the film itself, or at least not without close or repeated viewings. And close critical readings of The Shining are something of a cottage industry within film criticism; ask a group of movie nerds what The Shining is "really" about, and the answers will come pouring out like blood from the Overlook's elevators (or is it blood? What if it's actually a mix of whiskey and the metaphorical red of Jack's anger, the two things that blah blah blah blah???).

Deep readings of The Shining are so common that there's actually a documentary on the phenomenon, called Room 237 after the notorious hotel room where something happens to Danny. According to people in this documentary, The Shining is, despite appearances, actually a movie about American imperialism and the genocide of Native Americans. Or, actually, it's about the Holocaust and that genocide. Or it's a secret retelling of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Or, maybe most famously, it's Stanley Kubrick's secret confession that he was involved in faking the Moon landing . Did you know that if you play the movie forward and backward at the same time, stuff happens? It's a lot.

Anyway, one thing we can all agree on is that this is definitely a movie about a haunted hotel, right? ...right?

What if there are no ghosts?

A relatively common strategy in horror movie criticism is to ask what's really happening in the movie if nothing supernatural were actually present in the events of the film. The goal is to figure out what the supernatural presence is a metaphor for and thereby get to the thematic meat of the film, more or less. If, for example, there are no ghosts in The Haunting , it becomes a story of a woman experiencing a mental breakdown after trying and failing to find her place in the world. Dracula becomes a movie about paranoid English guys murdering a foreigner because they're afraid he'll corrupt their women. Stuff like that. Supernatural events become the result of dreams, hallucinations, rumors, and urban legends. While this can often be a useful tool for looking at stories from a new angle, it's not universally helpful because sometimes it's a refusal to engage with a genre on its own level and also the idea that there can't be ghosts in a work of fiction because obviously there aren't ghosts in real life is Olympic-level mental gymnastics.

That said, there maybe weren't any ghosts in the Overlook Hotel. Roger Ebert's review of The Shining , for example, features the fairly common interpretation that "Kubrick is telling a story with ghosts ... but it isn't a 'ghost story,' because the ghosts may not be present in any sense at all except as visions experienced by Jack or Danny." But if this is true and the ghosts aren't even a thing, then what's the real threat to the Torrance family?

The King of Hate

If you only know one piece of trivia about Stanley Kubrick's Shining adaptation, it's likely the fact that author Stephen King famously hates it. He hates it so much that he had it remade as a TV mini-series in the mid-'90s starring the fourth most famous person from the sitcom Wings in the Jack Nicholson role. If you haven't seen it, here's a spoiler: It's bad. But King is happier with it as an adaptation than he is with a film regarded as a crowning achievement in a genre and one of the best films of the most admired directors of all time. "Why?" you might rightly ask yourself. "Why would King hate Kubrick's The Shining so much?"

Well, according to King himself , much of it has to do with Jack's character. He never cared for the casting of Jack Nicholson, in part because Nicholson was so well known for his role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest , in which he plays a patient at a mental hospital. This, King thinks, gives away the game that Jack will go crazy. In fact, King argues that "the character of Jack Torrance has no arc in that movie. Absolutely no arc at all. When we first see Jack Nicholson ... he's crazy as a sh*t house rat. All he does is get crazier." For King, the tragedy of the story is seeing an ordinary man overwhelmed by evil, and Kubrick's adaptation loses that sense of tragedy. Consider, though: What if this is only part of the reason?

See if you can tell who this is describing: a writer and a father of a young child, whose issues with rage and substance abuse manifest themselves as antagonism toward that child. Many of you likely correctly identified that sentence as describing The Shining 's central character Jack Torrance, while others of you also correctly identified that sentence as describing The Shining 's author Stephen King at the time of the novel's composition. As the AV Club points out , The Shining is King's most personal work and Jack Torrance is the character he most closely identified with. King's inspiration for the book came from his own very real occasional feelings of antagonism toward his own children, and he claims the book was an "attempt to get it out of my system, but it was also a confession."

While King's Jack is an ordinary man who is driven to violence — literally transformed — by the influence of alcohol and the evil presence in the Overlook, Kubrick says of his adaptation that "there's something inherently wrong with the human personality. There's an evil side to it." As King's criticism rightly points out, Kubrick's Jack is crazy and violent from the beginning. The hotel just gives him an outlet. So while King might say he doesn't like that Kubrick's film is "cold" or that it's like "a Cadillac with no engine in it," isn't it possible that he also doesn't like what the movie seems to say about him as a person? If Jack is bad from the start, what does that say about King?

Jack in a box

One of the better known analyses of Kubrick's The Shining comes from filmmaker and analyst Rob Ager , whose incredibly thorough look at the film gained a lot of mainstream attention due to its breakdown of how the (as Ager claims, intentionally) impossible geometry of the Overlook Hotel is meant to disorient the viewer. (Ager's analysis is arguably too thorough, as it falls into the common trap of assuming that Kubrick's reputation as a perfectionist means his films actually are perfect, and any "perceived" continuity errors must be thematically significant. That's a whole other discussion, though.)

One convincing line of argument, however, is that Jack is the real threat and that, indeed, there are no ghosts in the Overlook at all. As Ager puts it , "Time and again, ghostly visions reveal themselves under scrutiny to be dream sequences, reflections or hallucinations." Jack's visions are the result of cabin fever and/or alcohol withdrawal, Danny's "shining" visions are dreams, Dick Hallorann's almost cartoonish home decor is the result of a childish imagination, and so on. (The fly in this particular argument's ointment is the question of who lets Jack out of the storage closet, but Ager has an explanation for that as well if you want to dig into it.) If there are no ghosts in the Overlook Hotel, the only malevolent force, the only real danger, is Jack Torrance himself and the abusive behavior toward his wife and son that he brought into the hotel with him.

Which room was it

Let's look at one of the most notorious scenes in the film, the one the documentary was named after: the ghost in Room 237. Taking the film's narrative at face value, we see Danny lured to the room, which is thought to be locked but is instead open. He subsequently appears with bruising on his neck, saying a crazy woman tried to strangle him. Jack later investigates the room and finds the ghost of a naked woman who is at first attractive to him but then turns into an old crone with rotting flesh. He then tells Wendy he saw nothing.

Okay, so: If there are no ghosts in the Overlook, who strangled Danny, and how do you explain what Jack saw? Ager does a very thorough comparison of the layouts of the Torrance apartment and Room 237, but more importantly takes a look at an otherwise innocuous-seeming scene: the one in which Danny comes in for his toy truck and Jack tells him how much he loves him. The short version of Ager's breakdown is that this scene (which is notably scored with very dramatic and ominous music) is cut off before we can see Jack strangling Danny for waking him up. Danny never goes into Room 237, and neither does Jack. Jack's encounter with the woman in 237 is Danny having a dream that mirrors his own frightening experience with his father.

Mirror, mirror

Many commentators, especially those who espouse the "no ghosts" theory, have noted that in every scene in which Jack encounters a ghost, there is a mirror present (or in the case of the storeroom, a polished metal door). From one perspective, this could simply mean that Jack is literally seeing things — misinterpreting a reflection as something else. On a more symbolic level, it's a reflection of that evil side Kubrick sees in humanity. But the fact is that duality and reflection are everywhere throughout the film, from the Grady twins to Tony as Danny's double to the two Mr. Gradys to the second Jack in the photo at the end, and so on. Doubles are everywhere in The Shining .

An exceptional essay from Catapult  goes into how the motif of doubles plays into the theory of the unheimlich – the uncanny, the idea of taking something familiar and twisting it just enough to make it unsettling. The Shining is all about ambiguity and doubt. Is the hotel haunted? Is Danny psychic? Is Jack possessed? This sense of uncertainty and unease is the same as that felt by victims of abuse. Is this a good day or a bad day? What will set my abuser off? The power dynamics of abuse are partly based on causing one's victims to doubt their instincts, creating false senses of security through doubt and gaslighting, turning a home into a place of insecurity and terror, as Jack does to Wendy and Danny, and, indeed, as the movie does to its viewers.

Everything old is new again

One of the most discussed shots in the film comes at the very end, after Jack has frozen to death and Wendy and Danny have escaped, when the camera slowly zooms in on a photograph from a July 4 party from 1921, which clearly shows Jack among the revelers in the ballroom. On the one hand, this could simply be a symptom of the fact that, as Kubrick said many times about the film, it's a ghost movie and not everything in a ghost movie needs to make sense. On the other hand, Kubrick also said quite clearly about this shot, "The ballroom photograph at the very end suggests the reincarnation of Jack." The idea of reincarnation is not isolated to Jack. There's also the implication that Charles Grady, the previous caretaker of the Overlook who murdered his family, is the reincarnation of Delbert Grady, the butler who tells Jack that he's always been the caretaker.

The idea of reincarnation not only reinforces the motif of doubles seen throughout the film, it also bears the symbolic weight of the cycle of abuse. Violence is often (but by no means always) passed down from one generation to the next, as our parents and others close to us are the ones who teach us how to behave and interact with others, even if only subconsciously. If the idea of The Shining is that the Overlook calls out to past inhabitants to test their moral mettle, we likewise have the decision between listening to our better angels, or, like Jack, giving license to our baser instincts.

Breaking the cycle

Somewhat ironically, the novel version of The Shining gives even more focus to the idea of the cycle of violent abuse by giving the story of Jack's father, himself a belligerent drunk who abused Jack. (While Jack's father does not appear and is not mentioned in the film, Rob Ager argues that his specter still haunts the film and in fact it is actually him talking to the bartender about accidentally hurting his son, thereby explaining the discrepancies between his version of events and Wendy's from the beginning of the film. Your mileage may vary on that.) Nevertheless, the film makes it clear that the history of violence at the Overlook goes back generations, literally to its foundation on stolen Native land. Violence begets violence, and the fact that Kubrick decided to leave the Overlook standing at the end (as opposed to King, who blew it up), lingering on the haunting image of former-life Jack, hints strongly at the immortality of evil.

While it seems at the end that Wendy and Danny have escaped Jack (and metaphorically the cycle of abuse), the track record at the Overlook seems to indicate that the lure of evil is hard to resist. While ghostly twins and deluges of blood are pretty spooky images, the idea that each of us plays host to potential violence that we must make an active choice each day to resist is a much more haunting idea. While constantly working to restrain our darker impulses may seem like it will make us dull boys, consider how it worked out for Jack.

  • The Shining (opera)
  • Edit source
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Lloyd is a minor posthumous antagonist in the The Shining novel and its film adaptation , and the film adaptation of Doctor Sleep . "It" was a ghostly bartender at the Overlook Hotel . "It" was most likely a bartender before it died also.

  • 1.1 The Shining (book)
  • 1.2 The Shining (film)
  • 1.3 Doctor Sleep (film)
  • 2 Appearances

Biography [ ]

The shining (book) [ ].

Jack hallucinates him in the Colorado Lounge at the Overlook Hotel. As Jack slips further into insanity, Lloyd serves him 20 martinis—all at once—presumably to get Jack drunk so the hotel can more easily convince him to kill Wendy and Danny.

The Shining (film) [ ]

Jack found Lloyd in the gold room after he had already begun to succumb to the effects of the malevolent forces governing the hotel. He had forgotten that the building was empty but for he and his family. A recovering alcoholic, Jack somehow know’s Lloyd’s name, orders up a bit of the "hair o' the dog that bit me", which Lloyd gladly accommodates. Lloyd is a man of few words, but kept a keen ear towards Jack's voiced frustrations concerning his wife, Wendy, and young son, Danny. Maintaining a tight smile, Lloyd invokes the old adage, "Women: can't live with them, can't live without them". Suddenly, Wendy comes looking for Jack and Lloyd disappears. She comes down to tell Jack about the Room 237 incident.

After Jack checks Room 237 and tells Wendy, he once again stumbles into the gold room, this time, he is angry. However, the ballroom is full of guests. Jack walks to Lloyd and says that it is a busy night, and Lloyd agrees. Jack asks Lloyd for a drink, and he is obliged. Lloyd is last seen serving drinks to the occupants.

Doctor Sleep (film) [ ]

When Danny and Abra arrive at the now abandoned hotel, he tells Abra to wait in the car while he wakes up the hotel. Eventually, he stumbles upon the Gold Room where he sees Lloyd, now resembling his father.

Appearances [ ]

  • The Shining (book)
  • The Shining (film)
  • Doctor Sleep (film)
  • Lloyd does not have a counterpart in the 1997 television miniseries .
  • Playing the part of Lloyd was actor Joe Turkel's second-to-last film role.
  • During the busy season, nobody was aware of Lloyd's presence, but the haunting power of the hotel allowed him to present himself to Jack Torrance .
  • 2 Overlook Hotel
  • 3 Topiary animals


Whatever Happened To The Real-Life Twins From The Shining?

Posted: January 8, 2024 | Last updated: January 8, 2024

Stanley Kubrick's 1980 horror film "The Shining," based on the popular book by Stephen King, saw struggling author Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) hired to be the caretaker of a remote, mountainside resort called the Overlook Hotel. During the winter months, snow prevents visitors from coming and going, and someone merely has to keep the furnaces burning. Jack is told that one of the hotel's previous caretakers, Mr. Grady, was infected by a severe case of cabin fever and slaughtered his family. Jack brushes off the violence as a mere horror story, and takes the job nonetheless. 

While there, Jack and his family learn that the Overlook is deeply, deeply haunted. The hotel is almost a massive, unconscious mind, which manifests ghosts as a way to flex its memories. In one of the film's more terrifying scenes -- and it has many -- the young Danny (Danny Lloyd) is idly riding his Big Wheel through the hotel's labyrinthine hallways when he happens upon the ghosts of the Grady daughters, the young girls who had been recently murdered at the Overlook. They stand stock still, wearing matching blue dresses, holding hands. "Come play with us," they implore. "Forever, and ever, and ever." Danny, having psychic powers, can also briefly see the bloody violence that befell them.

The Grady girls were played by real-life twin sisters Lisa and Louise Burns, who were 12 years old during the filming of "The Shining." In 2019, the Burns sisters talked to Cosmopolitan about their experiences filming and what they remembered growing up as unwitting horror icons. 

Read more: Horror Actors Who Passed Away After Filming Movies

The Shining Girls' Escort

Firstly, the Burns sisters recall being treated very well on the set of "The Shining." Because they were only 12, the production staff was sensitive to their working hours and if they were being looked after, so they were accompanied at all times by an escort. "[O]ur parents were never worried," they said, "or thought that we should stop shooting the film. They were and are very supportive of us." 

When it came to their ghostly performances, the Burns sisters said they practiced their speaking in unison, and tapped into what they considered to be their natural scariness. "We're naturally spooky!" they said. "But we did practice our timing -- saying things in unison -- and we worked on saying our lines in a hollow, other-worldly kind of way a number of times." In order to take the curse off of their murder scene, the special effects technicians on "The Shining" went to great lengths to make sure the Burns sisters weren't frightened. Makeup artist Tom Smith walked them through how fake blood was made, and told repeatedly that this was a fictional piece of playacting. They said: 

"They were very concerned that we would be frightened of the fake blood in the scene where we've been murdered. So Tom showed us how he made his 'blood' and it really looked just like the real thing. He even let us each keep a bottle, which we still have!" 

One hopes the Burns sisters have made sure the blood hasn't dried out. 

Where Are They Now?

Lisa and Louise Burns had no aspirations to be professional actresses, and they don't have extensive filmographies. Prior to "The Shining," both Lisa and Louise appeared in an episode of the short-lived 1979 TV series "Kids," a drama based on real-life cases of children put into Child Protective Services. They played characters named Lisa and Louise Webber in the episode "David." According to a 2015 article in the Daily Mail , Lisa and Louise wanted to continue acting, but their roles in "The Shining" were too iconic for their own good; they were turned away from London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art because they were technically already professionals. Louise said: 

"When I was younger, it was a huge dream of mine to be a movie star like Judy Garland or Greta Garbo, real movie stars. I went to an audition for RADA and they said they couldn't accept me because I'd been in the movie, that made me a professional actress and they didn't accept professionals. The woman wouldn't even audition me and that was a huge knock for me, so I decided to be a scientist instead."

Lisa noted, "We would probably have had more luck if we'd just lied."

Apart from "Kids" and "The Shining," the Burns sisters have only appeared as themselves for interviews and documentaries. As Louise mentioned, she is a published scientist, while Lisa currently works as a lawyer. They also are clearly happy to be associated with "The Shining," as their mutual Instagram handle is "the_shining_twins."  They still make public appearances to this day, and will even record a spooky message for you on Cameo .

Read the original article on /Film .

The Shining twins

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More on The Shining

Introduction see all, summary see all, themes see all.

  • The Supernatural
  • Drugs and Alcohol
  • Versions of Reality
  • Language and Communication

Characters See All

Jack torrance.

  • Wendy Torrance
  • Danny Torrance
  • Dick Halloran
  • Mark Anthony Torrance
  • Jack's Mother
  • Brett, Becky, and Mike Torrance
  • Wendy's Parents
  • Al Shockley
  • Horace (Harry) Derwent
  • Mrs. Massey, the Woman in 217
  • Delores Vickery
  • Delbert Grady and Family
  • George Hatfield

Analysis See All

  • What's Up With the Title?
  • What's Up With the Ending?
  • What's Up With the Epigraph?
  • Symbols, Imagery, Allegory

Quotes See All

  • For Teachers

Jack is an extremely sympathetic character. His power as a protagonist lies in his deep desire, and great potential, to be a good person – a good father, a good husband, and a good writer. Yet, he's a tragic figure with very specific demons, namely his temper, his alcoholism, and the memory of his abusive, alcoholic father. The Overlook, and whatever it is that lurks there, magnifies the intensity of Jack's demons. The hotel transforms Jack from protagonist with occasional bouts of antagonism, to a full-blown antagonist. But even in Jack's horrific final moments, slivers of love remain. Let's take a deeper look at Jack Torrance, who has more than earned his place in the horror hall of fame.

Does Jack Shine?

We think this question does a lot to unlock the mysteries of The Shining and Jack's character. King obviously wants us to ask it. Why else would it keep coming up? When Danny and Halloran talk privately on closing day at the Overlook, the topic of Jack's shine is raised: [Halloran] had probed at the boy's father and he just didn't know. It wasn't like meeting someone who had the shine, or someone who definitely did not. Poking at Danny's father had been…strange, as if Jack Torrance had something— something — […] he was holding in so deeply submerged in himself that it was impossible to get to . (11.105) In spite of his doubts, Halloran tells Danny, "I don't think he shines at all" (11.106). This is partly to sooth Danny's fears – Danny knows there's a connection between people who shine and the hotel. Danny takes it to heart, at least for a little while. When Jack goes to inspect Room 217 after Danny is choked by the ghoul, he tells the anxious Wendy, "Don't worry, mommy […]. He'll be all right. He doesn't shine. Nothing here can hurt him" (29.102). If it's true that those who shine are most open to perceive the evil of the Overlook, then Jack definitely shines! Also consider how many parallel experiences Jack and Danny have. Almost everything that happens to Danny also happens to Jack, with some variation. They both have a bizarre experience with the clock in the ballroom; they both enter 217 and have a scary time; they both have visions of Jack murdering Danny and Wendy; they both encounter the hedge animals and Roger, the dogman; they both "sleepwalk." All in all, Jack experiences a roughly equal amount of paranormal activity with Danny. Here's some more evidence to (possibly!) support arguments for Jack's shine. OK, first look at this description of Danny before he goes with Tony and sees REDRUM, early in the novel: His brow furrowed and […] his hand clenched in tight fists. Danny sighed quietly and his body slumped on the curb as if all the muscles had gone out of it.[…] His chin sank into his chest. Then there was a dim painless tug as part of him got up and ran after Tony . (4.22, 29, 31) Compare it with this moment before Jack goes into a state and breaks the radio. He's in the cellar, going through the Overlook's papers: The receipts slipped from his relaxing hand […]; his eyelids, which had settled shut with his father's image tattooed on their backs […], opened a little bit and then slipped back down again. He twitched a little. Consciousness […] seesawed lazily downward . (26.16) The first quote is from the chapter titled "Shadowland" and the second is from the chapter titled "Dreamland." King seems to be deliberately distinguishing between Danny's self-induced experience, and Jack's experience when he's involuntarily drifted off. If Jack does shine, he doesn't know it, whereas Danny is aware of his ability and even has some measure of control over it. Although the two passages don't match exactly, we can see some similarities. Like Danny, Jack often loses time. His experience with the wasps on the roof and with the hedge animals both include moments of slipping away. He forgets himself, either in musing over fictional matters or over his father. This is similar to Danny's experience. Danny has some control, but not much. When he concentrates deeply on reading his parent's minds, he might get taken from the world of "real things." He also has nightmares that are very similar to the experiences he induces, or the visions that come upon him when he isn't sleeping. There's no single answer to the question of whether Jack's shines, but the possibility deepens his character. If he shines, it would mean that Jack has blocked the ability from his consciousness, or never knew it was there in the first place. We see how isolating Danny's ability is for him. This is mostly because the ability isn't recognized, and because it makes him look like there's something wrong with him. Jack's home life was much more repressive and violent than the Danny's (at least before the Overlook). Jack might have repressed the ability. It's hard to say because we only see bits of his childhood. Within those bits we haven't been able to find clues that Jack shines, unfortunately. But, isn't it fun to explore the possibility? If you have more evidence, for or against, drop us a line.

Dr. Faust-Jack

(It's me they want…isn't it? I am the one. Not Danny, not Wendy. I'm the one who loves it here. […] I'm the one who took care of the snowmobile…dumped the press on the boiler…lied…practically sold my soul…[…]) (43.25) Dr. Faust and Dr. Faustus stories have been around since at least the 1500s. You've probably heard some version of the story. You know, where a guy sells his soul to the devil to gain knowledge, power, money, or abilities of some kind. The most famous productions of this supernatural tale are Christopher Marlowe's play The Tragicall History of Dr. Faustus and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust: A Tragedy . The basic story is that Dr. Faustus trades his soul to the devil, called Mephastophilis or Mephostopheles, for forbidden knowledge. One reason Jack doesn't want to leave the Overlook is because it's feeding him forbidden knowledge, which is kind of every artist's dream. If Jack can write a book about the Overlook's hidden secrets, he can be a successful novelist. Unlike Dr. Faustus, Jack doesn't consciously trade his soul, because he doesn't even know the devil is a part of it. In "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory" we talk about the Overlook as a manifestation of the idea of hell. If the Overlook is hell, we can make sense of these lines: [Lloyd:] "No charge to you Mr. Torrance. […] You're money is no good here. Orders from the manager." […] [Jack:] "Manager?" (43.18-19) [Jack:] "I want to see the manager. I…I don't think he understands." [Lloyd:] "[…] you will meet the manager in due time. He has, in fact, decided to make you his agent in the matter. Now, drink your drink . (43.37, 48) When we consider Jack's working-class ethos, and his general dislike of managerial types, it seems right to make the devil "the manager." Since the Overlook is a hotel, it needs a manager. This is also rather comical, almost like a running joke through the novel. After Jack reads about how many times the Overlook has failed, in spite of all the money poured into it, he thinks, "The management must have been spectacularly bad" (18.14). Ha! The devil is spectacularly bad! The martinis and other alcoholic beverages that magically appear at the Overlook might also have some roots in Goethe's Faust . In a rather early passage, Mephistopheles demonstrates his ability to create alcohol. We hope you enjoy his invocation as much as we do: MEPHISTOPHELES – (with singular gestures) Grapes the vine-stem bears, Horns the he-goat wears! The grapes are juicy, the vines are wood, The wooden table gives wine as good ! Into the depths of Nature peer, — Only believe, there 's a miracle here ! Now draw the stoppers, and drink your fill ! ALL – (as they draw out the stoppers, and the wine which has beendesired flows into the glass of each ). О beautiful fountain, that flows at will ! Dr. Faustus's last lines in Marlowe's play also seem apropos. The lines are spoken when he's on his death bed and the devil's minions are coming to take him to hell. In short, he's having second thoughts. Famously, he says: Ugly hell gape not! Come not, Lucifer! I'll burn my books – ah, Mephastophilis! Jack Torrance's last spoken words are, "I WIN! […] NOT TOO LATE! I WIN! NOT TOO LATE! NOT TOO LATE! NOT—" (56.32.). Although the mindsets of the bargainers are different, they both lose in the end. Dr. Faustus wants to do a trade back – he'll burn his books on "black magic" to get his soul back and escape hell. Jack, on the other hand, is trying to keep the bargain he thinks he's made with the devil – to protect the Overlook and give Danny to it. Can we think of the scrapbook, or even Jack's imaginary book on the Overlook, as similar to Dr. Faustus's books on black magic? Jack's books are burned up with the hotel; are Dr. Faustus's books burned upon his death? All these tales, like The Shining , contain lots of anxiety about the processes of reading and writing, as well as the impact of stories on the collective imagination.

A History of Violence

"Dear God, I am not a son of a b****. Please." (14.68) There are two phases (that we know of) of Jack's troubled past. One, the more recent past, involves Jack as a father; the other, more distant past, involves Jack as a son. But, labeling one set of Jack's memories "recent" and the other "distant" is probably folly, so shame on us. In fact, both sets of events and memories are as fresh and oozing as the bloodstain on the wall of the Presidential Suite. They are memories too painful to be forgotten. Like Danny, Jack loved his father in the extreme. He still does in fact. Yet, when Jack was Danny's age, physical and verbal violence was already part of the daily routine. Jack's father, Mark Anthony Torrance, habitually abused the entire family and was frequently drunk. Jack's eyes were opened to the reality of his father, when his father beat him at age seven and also beat his mother with a cane. Unlike Danny, Jack was a violent child. From kicking a dog to frequent fights, Jack had trouble controlling his temper. Jack's awareness of his violent tendencies and his intense battle to control them lends him lots of protagonist power. The troublesome theme of father-son relationships is frequent in literature. Jack's description of playing the game of "Elevator" reminds us in particular of a classic poem by Theodore Roethke . We think it eloquently expresses something of Jack's relationship with his father, at least when he was Danny's age. Elevator is a game where Jack's father picks him up and spins him around. Sometimes, when the man is drunk, he drops Jack on the floor, but: On other nights his father would only sweep him into a giggling ecstasy, through the zone of air where beer hung around his father's face like a mist of raindrops, to be twisted and turned and shaken like a laughing rag […] (26.9). We find the same innocent, accepting love and delayed anguish in the Roethke poem. The whiskey on your breath Could make a small boy dizzy; But I hung on like death: Such waltzing was not easy. We romped until the pans Slid from the kitchen shelf; My mother's countenance Could not unfrown itself. The hand that held my wrist Was battered on one knuckle; At every step you missed My right ear scraped a buckle. You beat time on my head With a palm caked hard by dirt, Then waltzed me off to bed Still clinging to your shirt . See any connections? Notice also the figure of the frowning, worried mother, and echo of the role played by Jack's mother, and to some extent, Wendy.

Jack Hamlet?

At first, William Shakespeare's Hamlet might not seem connected with Jack Torrance. After all, Hamlet loves his father and wants to avenge his death. But wait! In the twisted logic of Jack's brain, perverted by the Overlook, he imagines that killing Wendy and Danny is a way to avenge his own father's death as well. Like Jack, Hamlet is haunted by the ghost of his father, or at least something masquerading as the ghost of his father (possibly a demonic spirit). Like Jack, Hamlet has some serious issues with his mother, though very different ones from Hamlet. The angst and inner turmoil Hamlet expresses as a result are not unlike the inner turmoil Jack experiences regarding his own parents. Although the details are different, this turmoil in both cases revolves around the idea and concept of 'family' and what happens when family isn't all it's cracked up to be. Although Hamlet's madness might or might not be real, Jack's is unquestionably real. Thinking of Jack as a Hamlet figure also helps us see The Shining as a revenge tragedy. When Jack is consumed by madness, he's consumed by thoughts of revenge. For the Hamlet lovers out there we ask, how would you compare and contrast the states of mind of Jack and Hamlet through their respective stories?

Jack Prospero?

Throughout The Shining , starting with the epigraph, Stephen King acknowledges his dept to Edgar Allan Poe 's story " The Masque of the Red Death ." As we argue in our guide to the short story, its main character Prince Prospero has some solid connections to Prospero in Shakespeare's The Tempest . In addition to sharing a name, both are of questionable sanity, and both are artist-types who use their imaginations to create reality. Prince Prospero uses his imagination to decorate his castle and to put on the masquerade ball. Similarly, Prospero of The Tempest uses magic, which he often refers to as his "art," to try to create an ideal reality for himself, including, not coincidentally, a big party. Perhaps the deepest connection between Prince Prospero and Prospero is what most deeply connects the two with Jack – the theme of isolation. This is also where Shakespeare's Prospero diverges from Jack and the Prince. Prospero does what Jack and Prince Prospero fail to do – return from isolation to begin life anew. Prince Prospero is trying to use isolation to evade death and the mysterious plague sweeping the area. He uses wealth and privilege to try to buy off death. But, death comes for him nonetheless. There's also some indication that Prospero and the Red Death are foils for each other, and even that Prince Prospero and the Red Death are one in the same, though Prospero might not know it until his bloody end. Similarly, Jack thinks that isolation is the way to regain sanity, to finish his play, and make some money in the process. But, he can't hide from the demons inside him – the isolation only makes things worse, because there's no one to check him. Plus, the isolation is an extension of Jack's already extremely isolated inner life. His temper, alcoholism, and his father isolate him from the 'normal' people in the world. Part of Jack's downfall is his emulation of the rich and famous people at the Overlook's 1945 masquerade ball, presumably people similar in class to the attendees at Prince Prospero's ball. Jack's identification with them seems to open him to much of the Overlook's evil. See "Symbols, Imagery, and Allegory" for more on this line of thought.

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