Is Tenma the Real Monster? The Ending of the Monster Anime Explained

The Ending of Monster Anime Explained
Credit: Madhouse

The Ending of Monster Anime Explained
Credit: Madhouse

Monster is one of the more enduring mystery anime, not only because of its genius villain but also due to its thought-provoking ending. Here's what Monster's ending gave us, along with some clarifications.

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What Happened in the Ending of Monster?

Monster Ending Explained
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Credit: Madhouse

In the final couple of episodes, Monster's plot and themes come full circle.

Johan arrives at the hotel where Tenma, Wim, and Bonaparta are staying, and Roberto kills Bonaparta before anyone can make a move against Johan.

Nina and Dr. Gillen arrive at the scene. The former tells her twin that she forgives him, though this has no real effect on him as Johan still tries to get Tenma to shoot him.

While Tenma doesn't go through with it, Herbert arrives and shoots Johan instead.

Monster Circular Ending
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Credit: Madhouse

The authorities arrive on the scene. It turns out that Tenma is the only person who can perform surgery and save Johan's life. In doing so, Tenma brings his and Johan's story full circle.

Despite having embarked on a long, painful journey to eliminate the monster he had created, Tenma ended up choosing good over evil yet again.

Did Johan Die, or Did He Escape?

What Happened to Johan in Monster
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Credit: Madhouse

The ending of Monster leaves Johan's fate rather ambiguous, letting the viewer decide if one of the scariest anime characters survived or escaped.

After saving Johan's life, Tenma, who is cleared of all false charges, starts a new life.

Johan remains in a comatose state. Towards the end of the finale episode, Tenma goes to see him.

He has a hallucination of Johan wondering if his mother gave Nina away because she genuinely wanted to protect him, or if she did so because she mistook Nina for him.

Tenma leaves, and Johan's bed is shown empty. This leaves a few possible interpretations, which we discuss below.

Did Johan Die?

Did Johan Die
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Credit: Madhouse

Johan's absence from the hospital bed could indicate that he died despite Tenma's efforts to save him.

If Johan dies, then he's no longer a threat, but Tenma won't have to live with the guilt of having killed him.

Moreover, Johan's plan for the "perfect suicide" by erasing anyone who ever knew him will have failed as Tenma survived him.

Did Johan Get Discharged?

Did Johan Survive
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Credit: Madhouse

Johan getting discharged after Tenma's attempts to save him is always a possibility, perhaps the ideal one, as the monster would serve some form of sentence for the pain he's caused.

This isn't the most powerful theory, but it would mean that there is possibly hope for Johan.

Did Johan Escape?

Did Johan Escape
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Credit: Madhouse

If Johan managed to run away, then the show would have run full circle, as this is exactly what he did in the first episodes after Tenma first operated on him.

This would also be the most nihilistic ending, though. If Johan escaped, nothing could stop him from continuing his murderous ways.

Ultimately, no theory about Johan's fate is more or less valid than the others, and viewers are encouraged to make up their own.

Who Is the Real Monster? An Alternative Fan Interpretation

Who Is the Real Monster
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Credit: Madhouse

Since Monster's ending is so ambiguous, some fans have come up with even wilder interpretations.

Some viewers think that Johan's mother, who gave one of her children away rather than Johan himself, deserves the title of monster.

Of course, even if Johan's mother was evil, this does not excuse the many deaths Johan caused.

An even wilder theory, according to some fans, is that Johan is a figment of Tenma's imagination and that Tenma was the monster all along.

This would be supported by Tenma's hallucination of Johan and Johan's disappearance in the end.

However, the latter theory is very far-fetched and probably unlikely.

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